Great Galloping Robots: Muybridge’s Horse vs. Boston Dynamics’ WildCat

Great Galloping Robots: Muybridge’s Horse vs. Boston Dynamics’ WildCat
"Sallie Gardner at a Gallop," 1878, vs. "WildCat" robot prototype, 2013.
“Sallie Gardner at a Gallop,” 1878, vs. “WildCat” robot prototype, 2013.

I’m pretty sure whoever edited this recent video from Boston Dynamics showing their WildCat robot prototype galloping across a parking lot had Eadweard Muybridge’s work of 120 years ago in mind, especially during the slow-motion sequence starting around 1:04. When I saw the video this morning I was struck by the parallels and decided to animate them side-by-side. Here are the individual frames:


It’s a pretty unscientific affair. No effort has been made to correlate the timescales. Basically I extracted frames from the WildCat video and then cherry-picked Muybridge’s stills to match. The hind-leg gaits seem more similar to me than the front.

My money is still on the horse. For now.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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